Portland City Council votes to participate with JTTF

Portland City Council votes to participate with JTTF »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening to participate with the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The council approved a resolution that gives the city power to decide when and how Portland police officers will join federal investigators in terror cases.

According to a source, Commissioner Dan Saltzman might have been the lone holdout, wanting the city to become a full-fledged member of the JTTF. But in the end, the resolution to participate, but not join, got all five votes.

The resolution will allow police to put some officers in place with security clearance to help as needed.

“We think this is the best arrangement for right now to make sure we are getting local officers back into working in the daily fabric of the JTTF,” said Dwight Holton, acting U.S. attorney for Oregon. “We think that’s great and it’s a great step forward.”

Portland has been out the JTTF since 2005 when the investigation of an innocent man, Brandon Mayfield, raised huge concerns about civil liberties.

The issue came bubbling back to the surface after police say Mohamed Osman Mohamud tried to detonate a bomb he thought was real at Portland’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony in November 2010.

Mayfield was at City Hall Thursday.

“I’m still concerned that there will be potential violations if we get officers involved at the preliminary investigative stage, and yet there still hasn’t been established criminal nexus,” he said during the hearing.

The criminal nexus is the level of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on Oregon law and not federal rules that allow more leeway. Portland’s police Chief Mike Reese will have the say when the nexus exists and when his officers will act.

The American Civil Liberties Union gave the plan its cautious endorsement after helping craft it.

“This is groundbreaking,” said David Fidanque, ACLU of Oregon executive director. “This is something that will be looked at as a possible model by other cities, by counties – we hope, by the state of Oregon.”

A group of demonstrators protested against the resolution outside City Hall and chanted, “How do you spell oppression?: J-T-T-F.”